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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Daily Drift

This is getting to be all too a familiar scene in the US ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 195 countries around the world daily.
Crabby ... !
Today is -  Champion Crab Races Day

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Today in History

1454 At a grand feast, Philip the Good of Burgundy takes the "vow of the pheasant," by which he swears to fight the Turks.
1598 Boris Godunov, the boyar of Tarar origin, is elected czar in succession to his brother-in-law Fydor.
1720 Spain signs the Treaty of the Hague with the Quadruple Alliance ending a war that was begun in 1718.
1801 The House of Representatives breaks an electoral college tie and chooses Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr.
1864 The Confederate submarine Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
1865 The South Carolina capital city, Columbia, is destroyed by fire as Major General William Tecumseh Sherman marches through.
1909 Apache chief Geronimo dies of pneumonia at age 80, while still in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
1919 Germany signs an armistice giving up territory in Poland.
1925 The first issue of Harold Ross' magazine, The New Yorker, hits the stands, selling for 15 cents a copy.
1933 The League of Nations censures Japan in a worldwide broadcast.
1935 Thirty-one prisoners escape an Oklahoma prison after murdering a guard.
1938 The first color television is demonstrated at the Dominion Theatre in London.
1944 U.S forces land on Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific.
1945 Gen. MacArthur's troops land on Corregidor in the Philippines.
1951 Packard introduces its "250" Chassis Convertible.
1955 Britain announces its ability to make hydrogen bombs.
1959 The United States launches its first weather station in space, Vanguard II.
1960 Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested in the Alabama bus boycott.
1963 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visits the Berlin Wall.
1969 Russia and Peru sign their first trade accord.
1973 President Richard Nixon names Patrick Gray director of the FBI.
1975 Art by Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir, and van Gough, valued at $5 million, is stolen from the Municipal Museum in Milan.
1979 China begins a "pedagogical" war against Vietnam. It will last until March.
1985 Murray Haydon becomes the third person to receive an artificial heart.

Non Sequitur


Photographs of the First Winter Olympics

The very first Winter Games were held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Athletes competed in most of the same sports as they do today: speed skating, figure skating, skiing, ski jump, curling, bobsledding, and hockey (plus, there was a military patrol competition, won by the Swiss). But the look was different, as you can see from the business attire worn by the speed skaters here. See a collection of pictures from those first Games at Slate.

Get Rid of Football Helmet Face Masks

Modern football helmets are technological wonders designed in reflection of a detailed knowledge of physics, materials science and biomechanics. They’re designed to keep a player’s head safe and cool without impairing visibility. Nonetheless, football players often receive debilitating head injuries.
Is the solution to make football helmets even more impervious? Owen Edwards of The Design Observatory Group argues for the opposite approach: make helmets less impact resistant by removing the face masks that emerged in the 1960s.
His argument is that armoring football players has made them less cautious about ramming into other players—or being rammed. A player with a less protective helmet has to be more careful about what he’s doing with his head. Edwards writes about his own football experiences and how they were different from those of modern players because his gear was less protective:
In the final two years of my otherwise forgettable football career, before switching to lacrosse in college, I and my teammates considered shockingly sissified the first appearances of single, transparent bands of Lucite on the helmets of a few players with expensive orthodontia work. Real men, we figured, did not worry about the chance of a broken nose or a few lost teeth. But of course we did worry, perhaps wrongly imagining that our faces were our fortunes. So nobody ever dove into a tackle head first. Instead, we were taught to tackle with our shoulder pads, and practiced the technique for hours on tackling dummies. Our helmets were far from the state of today’s art, but I don’t remember more than a few, very rare concussions. Better yet, I can still remember almost everything else about those days…a good sign, I think.
If high school, college and professional football teams could forge a kind of anti-missile treaty, facemasks could be gone by the start of spring training. Mouthpieces can do a pretty good job of protecting players’ teeth, and a return to shoulder tackling will keep noses unbroken. And, of course, there will be no more of those penalties for those nasty facemask takedowns.

Did you know ...

Where to eat in restaurants that support a living wage

That Missouri and Pennsylvania are the next fronts in the war on public unions

That the metal band Skinny Puppy invoices the U.S. government for using their music at Guantanamo

The US to allow banks to do business with licensed marijuana companies

"One Girl Smokes Pot While Her Friend Watches During an Outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas." May, 1973. 
A breaking story that could become a significant step toward a legal marijuana economy in the United States:

From the Denver Post:

Banks were given a green light Friday to offer services to the legal marijuana industry, but must continue to report any suspicious activity specific to that industry to federal authorities. The historic step brings marijuana businesses closer to legitimacy in states where pot is already legal, but it falls short of the legislative action many banks want to see before doing business with marijuana operators. That will be up to Congress to consider. In a joint statement, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, said the move gives "greater financial transparency" to an industry that remains illegal in nearly every state.
The rules are issued by the Treasury and Justice Departments, and are intended to "move from the shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana businesses," a Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rep told CNBC.
Earlier this week, a letter signed by 17 Democrat lawmakers and one Republican asked President Barack Obama to remove marijuana from its classification as a dangerous schedule 1 controlled narcotic.
They "cite Obama's recent comments that he sees smoking marijuana as no more dangerous than drinking alcohol." Under current federal classification, pot is in the same category as heroin and MDMA, drugs with high potential for abuse but "no accepted medical use." And that's just wrong.
Snip from CNN:
The lawmakers said marijuana's current classification "makes no sense," pointing to wasted law enforcement resources under "harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws." "You said that you don't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous 'in terms of impact on the individual consumer.' This is true," the letter says.
"Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs."
In a recent New Yorker interview, the president said, "As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
Related: An op-ed in this week's New York Times by doctors who treat children who have epilepsy with cannabis, with promising results. We need more science.

World Map Shows Where Press Freedom Is Strongest And Weakest

Reporters Without Borders has published its 2014 World Press Freedom Index, which measures the freedom of information and journalists in 160 countries around the world.

Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, followed by the Netherlands and Norway. The United States fell 13 places to 46th for various reasons. The organization describes countries at the bottom of the list - Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea - as 'news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them.'

How the religio-wingnuts and tea party make the repugican cabal Unhinged

The repugicans are keeping the religio-wingnuts and their obsessions front and center.
As the 2014 election season gears up—and various politicians start floating the possibility of a 2016 presidential run—the question of what repugicans need to do about the religio-wingnts is only getting more serious. It’s become apparent that the religio-winguts are a electoral albatross for repugicans. The invention of the “tea party” reflected this desire to bamboozle the press into forgetting that the repugican cabal is controlled by a bunch of wingnut christians, by floating this narrative that this new insurgence of wingnut energy was somehow more about economic conservatism than social conservatism.
That narrative has basically collapsed in the face of overwhelming evidence that the tea party’s main impact is encouraging repugican primary voters to back even more embarrassingly bible-thumping candidates than usual, from Ted Cruz to Christine O’Donnell. It’s impossible to ignore that the biggest result of the supposed tea party revolution has been to refocus repugican energies on attacking abortion rights and expanding the war on women to include attacks on previously non-controversial issues, such as insurance coverage of birth control and maternity care. Turns out the “tea party” was the same old religious right people know and loathe.
The religio-wingnuts are increasingly a problem for the repugican cabal. But it’s not one they can get rid of without creating even more problems for themselves.
The 2012 election really demonstrated how much the religious right hurts repugicans in general elections. The various “rape philosophers” who lost elections after making offensive remarks about rape victims were, by and large, expressing ideas about female sexuality and sexual violence they got by being stalwart warriors for the religious right. Todd Akin’s claim that “legitimate rape” didn’t result in pregnancy is a fairy tale told by christian wingnuts to convince themselves that exceptions in their preferred abortion bans for rape are unnecessary. Richard Mourdock’s claim that rape happens because it’s god’s plan was more of the same.  
But this was a continuation of the trend of candidates in competitive elections losing because they say wacky things they learned as christian wingnuts. Sharron Angle’s weird religiosity—including a similar tendency to describe rape as a blessing in disguise—led to her defeat in a previously competitive 2010 election against Harry Reid. (She beat out a more moderate repugican in the primary, in part because of the tea party insurgency.) The tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell tanked her election after talking about christian lunatic obsessions like witchcraft and sexual “purity.” The trend continued right through 2013 when Ken Cuccinelli lost his bid to be governor of Virginia because of his hostility to reproductive rights and his outdated campaign to recriminalize sodomy in Virginia.
This isn’t a problem in wingnut districts where ficus trees could win as long as they were the official repugican nominees, but as these examples show, the religio-wingnuts severely limit the repugicans’ ability to expand beyond that, especially when it comes to bigger elections with a broader base of voters—like the presidential election. Because of that, it seems the smart thing to do would be to quit running the Todd Akins and Ken Cuccinellis and go for candidates who don’t have the stench of misogynistic fundamentalism about them.
But early 2014 evidence shows that repugicans have decided to keep on keeping on with the jesus lunacy. The official repugican response to the State of the Union address was given by Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Most of her speech was composed of empty platitudes without even a whiff of what kind of policies repugicans would offer instead, with one exception: abortion. Even though Obama hadn’t mentioned it in his speech, McMorris Rodgers wielded her young son with Down’s syndrome as evidence for belief that abortion is never acceptable. The message was clear. The repugicans not only refuse to give up on the religio-wingnuts—they’re keeping the religio-wingnuts and their obsessions front and center.
It seems stupid, but if you think about it, what other choice do they have? As the McMorris Rodgers speech indicated, there’s a dearth of ideas outside of waging war on women in the current repugican cabal. Right now, repugicans are primarily defined by what they’re against and they don’t seem to be for much of anything: Against minimum wage rises, against healthcare reform, against government interventions to improve the economy, against everything Obama does no matter what (including taking pictures of his dog), against food stamps, against against against. They may occasionally make gestures toward the hint of an idea that they might want to replace the policies they’re against with some other policies, but no one really believes this. House repugicans spend more time passing pointless repeal bills of the ACA than they do passing bills that do anything at all.
Say what you will about the religio-wingnuts, at least they are for something. Sure, what they’re for is eradicating safe abortion, making contraception hard to get, aggressively punishing gay people for the crime of existing, injecting creationism into schools, redirecting tax money toward their pet causes, and stoking anti-muslim sentiment, but at least they have a mission. The larger repugican agenda of getting out of the way so that capitalist forces can squeeze as much wealth as they can from 99% of the population to enrich 1% of the population is never going to be an agenda people can support—well, people besides billionaires, that is—but a lot of people are active members of the religio-wingnut cabal and are willing to vote and fund raise and agitate on these fronts.
Without the religio-wingnuts, the repugicans would be reduced to saying, “Vote for us. For reasons. Which we can’t really explain.” In other words, the rest of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' speech. The parts that weren’t about pandering to the religio-wingnuts, that is.
This is the paradox of the modern repugican cabal: In order to get the votes of the kind of people who would support them, they have to turn everyone else off. Sure, some people who currently vote for Democrats or refuse to vote at all would decamp to the repugican side if repugicans dropped the religio-wingnuts, but the number of voters they have to gain from this is fewer than the number they have to lose if the religio-wingnuts decides to stop voting altogether.
So next time you wonder why they keep running all these fools who can’t stop saying nutty stuff about jesus and controlling other people’s sex lives, just remember: Those nutty christian lunatics are the only loyal votes they have left. If they threw them out, they might be standing around with a big bag of nothing.

This repugican Asshat Says Rich People Should Get More Votes Than Everyone Else

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins thinks only taxpayers should get to vote, and rich people should get more votes than everyone else.
During a speaking engagement at the Commonwealth Club, CNN Money reported,
“The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes,” Perkins said.
“But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?”
The audience at the Commonwealth Club reacted with laughter. But Perkins offered no immediate indication that he was joking. Asked offstage if the proposal was serious, Perkins said: “I intended to be outrageous, and it was.”
Perkins is terrified that rich may have to pay more taxes, “The fear is wealth tax, higher taxes, higher death taxes — just more taxes until there is no more 1%. And that that will creep down to the 5% and then the 10%.”
The horror is almost unspeakable. Can you imagine the top ten percent paying more taxes, so that the country can afford things infrastructure repair, better schools, and helping the poor?
The idea that millionaires should get one million votes is already something that is being put into practice by wealthy conservatives. Citizens United has given wealthy billionaires the opportunity to buy votes through anonymous super PACs, but the plan has met with mixed results. Super PACs have been very effective at the state, and in some cases, local level. They have also been effective in congressional districts. However, they have had poor results in Senate races, and were an absolute failure during the 2012 presidential election.
Perkins’ comments echo the mentality that the American people are up against. Super rich repugican supporters think that they are entitled to more democracy than the rest of us. They believe that democracy is a commodity that they can buy. The wingnut billionaires really do believe the job creator stuff.
They think their money makes them better people than the rest of us. Their hatred of President Obama, and the “unwashed masses” who have elected him twice is real. The Koch brothers, Perkins, and others consider themselves to be at war for the country.
Tom Perkins laid it all on the table. The super rich wingnuts think that government should be theirs, and they are doing everything in their power to steal democracy away from we the people.

Montana repugican Charged With Felony Assault After Throwing 4-Year Old Daughter

'Family Values' repugican  Jason Priest is accused of throwing and injuring his four year-old daughter, and assaulting his wife.…

Militarized police kill 80-year-old man in his own bed

No meth found

Zach Weissmueller says:
A few years ago, I shared with you a video about the pattern of police raids on private property happening in California's Antelope Valley.
Well, a rather tragic and infuriating story brought me back to the desert. It's the story of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer, whose home was raided by the LA County Sheriff's Dept. (which has been at the center of a number of scandals in recent years), in search of meth. No meth was found, but Eugene Mallory was shot dead in his own bedroom.
This video takes you inside Mallory's home, to the scene of the incident, and scrutinizes the Sheriff Department's official account. How was a warrant obtained, but not a single shred of evidence pointing to meth production found on the property? Why did deputies first claim Mallory was charging at them and then change their story? Why did one officer only yell "drop the gun" after he had already shot Mallory six times?

Polish woman given suspended jail term after killing two million bees with anti-mosquito spray

A Polish court on Tuesday handed down a suspended four-month jail term to a woman it found guilty of killing two million bees through excessive use of an anti-mosquito product.

The woman, who was only identified by the court as Joanna S. because of privacy laws, was in charge of a municipal anti-mosquito spraying operation and was found to have used a pesticide without the necessary health ministry authorization. Shortly after the operation, beekeepers found that as many as 358 bee colonies had been wiped out.
"The (anti-mosquito) operation could have also taken human lives," said Lucjan Furmanek, head of a beekeepers' association in Gorlice, southeastern Poland. "I hope the court decision will prevent other thoughtless environmental disasters," he added.

The Gorlice court's ruling opens the door for beekeepers to launch a civil lawsuit for damages in connection with mass bee death that occurred following the 2010 spraying operation. Flooding that year in the nearby town of Biecz caused an unusually high number of mosquitoes to breed in stagnant waters.

Murderer buried victim in concrete and sold off his Magic: The Gathering trading cards, then blamed twin

William Cormier III was convicted of killing journalist Sean Dugas, burying his body in a concrete-covered pit in Georgia, then selling off his rare Magic: The Gathering playing cards, part of a set valued at $100,000.
Defense attorneys said during closing arguments that prosecutors didn't prove that Cormier killed Dugas, and instead suggested his twin was responsible. Cormier's twin brother, Christopher, pleaded no contest to charges of helping his brother move Dugas' body from Florida to Georgia. Christopher Cormier has not been sentenced yet. Dugas' body was unearthed more than a month after his 2012 death in the backyard of Cormier's father's home in Winder, Ga., which is about 300 miles northeast of Pensacola. Cormier was the only witness to testify for the defense. He told jurors Wednesday he was acting under the direction of his twin and that he did not know Dugas' was dead when he sold more than $12,000 of his cards and cleaned out his home.

L.A.'s Wildest Cafeteria Served Utopian Fantasy With A Side Of Enchiladas

On a decrepit block of Broadway in downtown L.A., hidden behind a dilapidated, aging fa├žade, lies the ghost of a palatial dining hall filled with towering redwoods and a gurgling stream. Known as Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria, this terraced wonderland recalls a different time, when cafeterias were classy and downtown living was tops.
The Brookdale outlasted attacks from notorious L.A. mobsters and decades of neighborhood decline, and is finally being restored to its original Depression-era grandeur.

The science of trolling

Psychologists: Internet trolls are horrible people. Trolls: Why, thank you, good sirs

Cancer Patient Recreates "The Birth of Venus"

Jonathan Thorpe is a photographer in the Washington, D.C. area. His friend, Heather Byrd, is a model. She has leukemia. But that hasn't stopped her professional life. Thorpe wanted to work with her to show "beauty through a troubling time." So he created a carefully-staged shot of her in a hospital scene modeled after Sandro Botticelli's famous painting "The Birth of Venus" (above).
I think that photograph is completely safe for work. It's non-erotic, like Botticelli's original. But on the off chance that you work in a profoundly conservative workplace, I decided to provide just a link. Go here to view the magnificent photo and Thorpe's description of how he shot it.

King Richard III's remains to be sequenced for DNA

Laurence Olivier as Richard III in the Criterion release of the 1955 film classic.
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard (c. 1520, after a lost original), formerly belonging to the Paston family. Source: Society of Antiquaries, London
Steven Erglanger reporting in the New York Times: "About a year and a half after finding King Richard III’s corpse under a parking lot in Leicester, British scientists will proceed to grind up some of his bones to try to sequence his genetic code. They hope to discover his hair and eye color and see what kind of infectious bacteria he might have been hosting. They have already confirmed that the last Plantagenet king was indeed a hunchback, that he was infected with roundworm and that he died from the blow of a sharp instrument, like a sword or halberd, to the head."



The Streets in This Dutch Town Are Named for 'Lord of the Rings' Characters

Geldrop is a town in the southern part of the Netherlands. One of the neighborhoods in that town is named for characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books.

92% of Lake Superior frozen ove

The last time this much of the lake was frozen was in 1994, when 91% of the surface area was ice. That deep freeze is having some interesting effects, including, potentially, aiding the survival of a threatened wolf population. An ice bridge from Isle Royale to the mainland will hopefully bring much needed to genetic diversity to the island's wolves.

All your bird poop are belong to us

From the first section of the 1856 Guano Islands Act:
Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other Government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other Government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
Or, as my friend Andrew put it: If you find an island with bird poop on it you can claim it for the USA.

The earth is surrounded by a bubble of bacteria

Earth’s upper atmosphere—below freezing, nearly without oxygen, flooded by UV radiation—is no place to live. But last winter, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that billions of bacteria actually thrive up there. Expecting only a smattering of microorganisms, the researchers flew six miles above Earth’s surface in a NASA jet plane. There, they pumped outside air through a filter to collect particles. Back on the ground, they tallied the organisms, and the count was staggering: 20 percent of what they had assumed to be just dust or other particles was alive. Earth, it seems, is surrounded by a bubble of bacteria.

Daily Comic Relief


Amazing, new fossil site found in Canada

The Burgess Shale, discovered in 1909 in the Canadian Rockies, has long been considered one of the greatest fossil sites ever found. Now, an extension of the site has been discovered, which rivals the original in quantity and quality of specimens, including rare fossil evidence of soft tissue.

Dinosaurs left tracks of pee as big as a bathtub

The fossil record contains evidence of dinosaur poop. But it also turns out that we've got evidence of dinosaur pee, as well. Specifically, divots and splatters in preserved in rock, some as large as 10 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 5 inches deep. Suffice to say, you don't want to stand under a sauropod when they're doing their business.

Rabbit hunter attacked by owl

A rabbit hunter is recovering from an attack by an owl in Digby County, Nova Scotia, Canada on Tuesday night. Kevin O’Neil, 55, was coming home from checking his rabbit snares in Mink Cove. He had gone in towards his hunting camp and saw the owl sitting in a tree.
He says he talked to it. "I kind of looked up at it jokingly and said to it, 'You bugger, you better not be eating my rabbits,'" he said. A few minutes later O'Neil says he heard a swoosh coming at him in the dark. "It swooped down and struck me right in the face. Feet first," he said.

"Drove three of its talons in my forehead and the other three right around my right eye. One in the corner, one in my eyebrow and one in the corner of my nose. The blood just started running out of me. It knocked me down." O'Neil said he was carrying a shotgun and turned it on the owl as it returned to a tree. The owl didn't attack again so he walked out of the woods without firing.
"He's one lucky owl, that's all I can say," he said. O'Neil said he thinks the bird, likely a barred owl, might have been protecting a nest. He has several cuts around his eye, but said two days after the attack he's recovering well. "It was pretty freaky," he said. "It was different."

Toxic Kitty Litter Parasite Found in Arctic Whales

The parasite found in cat feces is being scooped out from litter boxes, flushed down the toilet and funneled into oceans.

Albino alligator gets a CT scan

Check out this series of photos from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Mr. Bones, the alligator, had to be fully restrained to keep him from moving in the scanner.

Animal Pictures